Trekking is a great way to merge travel with exploration along with the appreciation for nature. However, it might come across as a daunting affair to those who have never done it before.
You might imagine it as a group of people with rucksacks walking through valleys, forests and meadows trying to get from point A to B, but a trek can also be exploring the nooks and crannies of Bandra or walking along a golf course (provided you don’t get smacked by golf balls coming from all directions).
So do you have to be all ripped and in tip-top shape to trek? Nope. If running is exhausting, trekking is perhaps the best way to build strength in your legs and get you more used to strenuous activity. It all depends on the trek you want to take. Let’s begin, shall we?
Before you start trekking, you need to make up your mind.
1. How long am I going to trek?
Time is money and in this case, time is your guideline. Do you have all of Sunday or just the morning? There you go, based on that you can pick a trail to start your trek and make a trek plan.
2. Should I be doing this alone?
It all depends on the trail you have chosen. Are you familiar with it? How dangerous is it to your safety? Will there be someone to help you should something happen? If your answer is “I don’t know”, it’s better to have someone accompany you. Perhaps an experienced guide, a friend who is familiar with the route or a group of people who are on the same trek.
3. Where do I begin?
If you’re out of shape or are not used to strenuous activity, chose a trail that’s close to home where you can stop when you can’t take anymore. It’s so much better to come back home after a one-hour trek feeling like you killed it rather than embark on an 8-hour expedition and lose steam before you reach your destination.
4. What do I pick for a trail?
Just about anything, as long as you stick to your limitations.
5. Should I let somebody know?
YES! Whether you’re heading out alone or in a group, do call someone and let them know where you are going, how long you will be gone and when you are expected to return. Just in case something unfortunate may happen or if you lose your way, they will alert the proper authorities.
What to wear while trekking
Trekking boots are the most popular option among trekkers as they are sturdy and provide an excellent grip of the terrain. However they give too much support and promote an improper foot strike while walking as well as being very heavy.
Sneakers, on the other hand, don’t provide the grip you need especially on slippery surfaces, so do be careful.
Most socks can get all sweaty and smelly causing discomfort and blisters on the feet. Opt for socks made of merino wool.
3. Trousers or shorts?
This depends on the climate you will be trekking in. If it’s cold, trousers are better, most notably track pants or cargos that are made of synthetic materials because they can dry faster. Jeans take longer to dry but they are heavy duty and can last through the trek. As long as you’re comfortable, anything goes.
Shorts are better if you are going to trek in hot and humid weather. Trousers are advised if you will be trekking through forests where there might be mosquitoes, insects and poisonous flora and vines.
There are all kinds of shirts on the market and of course the ones that are made of aerable material are the most expensive. Although if you’re low on funds, any old T-shirt will do as long as you carry a change in case you get too sweaty.
As you trek to a higher elevation where the weather is pleasant, it’s very likely that the air will get chillier and you don’t want to find yourself on a trek where your teeth are chattering throughout. Carry a light weight jacket which is waterproof and can protect you against cold winds. Cotton or woolen overalls are not really a good option. Wind cheaters are the best option while trekking when the climate is moderate.
A hat is optional except when it’s really sunny. A baseball call or an Australian hat with a floppy brim are perfect for protecting you against the strong rays of the sun.
Long story short, just be versatile. If the weather is unpredictable, wear clothes that you can modify according to your comfort. For example, trousers that can turn into shorts and jackets that come with removable padding.
What you need to carry
Since you are a beginner, let’s start with the basics.
Nope, you don’t need to carry those enormous rucksacks that you see backpackers carrying. So start light. Rucksacks are expensive and something only the pros would invest in, but if you have money at your disposal, hey why not?
2. A phone
Your only connection to the outside world. Use this in case of emergencies or when you need to contact someone for assistance. If you have a smartphone, it can double up as a GPS system and a compass.
Be sure to have your phone fully charged before you begin.
A license to have bragging rights later on.
In addition to hats, do carry sunscreen to block out the harmful rays of the sun that can burn your skin. 30 SPF sweat proof sunscreen helps to protect your ears, cheeks and the back your neck from being roasted.
5. Mosquito repellent and bug spray
Keep Odomos at hand because you don’t want to be scratching every part of you trekking. It’s just too much of a hassle.
6. First aid
If it’s a short trek, just carry along some band-aids, relief spray and antiseptic cream. If it’s rough terrain you’re going to be challenging, it’s better to carry along the whole box.
7. Swiss Army Knife
Just in case you get attacked by bears. Just kidding.
You don’t wanted be blinded whether it’s by the sun or the snow.
The most important of all things you’ll be carrying. Make sure you bring along foods that give you energy and have plenty of good fats. Nuts like almonds and walnuts are a good choice. Bread and peanut butter, cured meats, dry fruits and homemade granola bars are just some other snacks you can carry along with you.
Water is the best and only beverage you should carry with you. A litre is more than enough for a short trek, so keep yourself hydrated from time to time. Drink plenty of water before you leave home so you don’t start feeling dehydrated as you commence your trek